Dave Puklowski heads off on a test run to Picton as he counts down to his circumnavigation of the South Island. Photo: Simon Bloomberg

Dave ‘sets sail’ for a mate

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Nelson’s Dave Puklowski reckons Russell Blowers is “the nicest guy you’d ever meet”, so he decided he’d do something special to help out his mate who suffers from a rare and painful form of rickets.

But sausage sizzles and quiz nights were the last thing on Dave’s mind as he planned a fundraiser to help pay for his friend’s latest surgeries. Instead, Dave came up with Challenge for Mate which will be launched from Nelson on April 1, when he attempts to become the first person to circumnavigate the South Island solo in a small powered boat.

And after a year of planning, Challenge for Mate became a step closer on Monday when Dave launched the especially-modified 3.9m long Terminator NZ inflatable from Nelson to Picton.

The 157km journey in rough seas was the ideal test run for Dave and his boat for the 2750km circumnavigation which will take up to 30 days.

“Russell is the type of guy everyone becomes mates with,” Dave says. “Even though he suffers so badly every day, he’s always happy and will do anything for you – he’s a great mate.

“That’s why I wanted to do something for him. And since I’ve always loved the sea and always had boats, I came up with this idea.

“We had our honeymoon on a boat and now our family has three boats. As long as I’m on the water, I’m happy.”

Dave says the biggest challenges for the epic circumnavigation will be the weather. If all goes well, he is hoping to complete the journey in 19 days but has allowed 30 days as a contingency.

“I’m hoping to meet my support team most nights to refuel and get supplies. There’s only a few places around Fiordland that they can’t get to, but if the weather’s bad and things go wrong, and they always do, I may have to stop in one place for a couple of days, so I’ll have to be prepared.”

Dave says he is leaving nothing to chance and will be carrying extra fuel, food and water as well all the latest safety equipment, including satellite communications. The boat also has fold-down wheels on the transom so that Dave can drag it to a safe place onshore for overnights stays.

Dave says Challenge for Mate has received great support from Terminator Boats and Parsun Outboards and a number of Nelson companies, including NPD, Ansco Engineering, Bright Sparks Electrical, Brazen Composites, DroneMate, Century Batteries, Lowrance Marine Electronics, Fluid Electronics, Summit Real Estate, Sport Nelson Tasman Trust, Bowater Toyota and Placemakers.